Living off the garden

Well, the blogging pause lasted longer than expected, even by me. I posted my intention to go dark at the end of June, and here it is mid-August. It’s hardly the same garden. In fact, it’s hardly the same as it was two weeks ago, when I left for my second trip to Toronto this summer. At that point, most of this plot was bare dirt.

Squash square, mid-July

Here’s what it looked like when I returned, a week later:

Squash square, Aug 2  

Note that I did not say, "This is a photograph I took upon my return a week later." I did not say that, because it would be a lie. The top photo was actually taken two weeks before my departure, the bottom one two weeks after my return. But I swear, the change occurred over the week I was gone.

Squash plants—at least, my squash plants—always do this: they sit there appearing to do nothing at all, for weeks, though a magnifying glass reveals that they've been tentatively putting out one little leaf and another, and even forming microscopic buds. Then they suddenly go BOOM, and explode into blossom. Not to mention leaves the size of dinner plates. Indeed, a squash plant provides not only food, but half the table-setting as well: leaf plates, blossom goblets. And then you can eat the goblet.

(Pause, while I go out to look for one of the goblet-sized blooms that inspired this metaphor. No luck. One had clearly wilted just today; a four-inch bud will probably bloom tomorrow. But my dozen or so squash plants, in nearly as many beds in three separate gardens, failed to produce a single bloom worthy of this post. I wilt with shame.)

All three gardens—mine, and the two I work on shares—look like minor jungles, and if it were mid-July instead of mid-August, I’d have no complaints. As it is, if autumn comes early, I’m not sure we’ll have a chance to harvest much from these huge plants. It was an absurdly cool, slow spring, as mentioned in an earlier post—so wet that most of my first squash and tomato starts drowned—and it’s been a cool summer as well. A couple of days last week the temperature barely made it into the seventies, and nights were in the forties.

Nevertheless, we’ve been living on garden produce for weeks. During hot weather we had new potatoes which, boiled, cooled, and mixed with new peas and chopped tomatoes, made a superb salad, piled on  lettuce. Either I’m lacking imagination or I know a good thing when I see it, because I used the same pea/tomato combination in a blue-cheese pasta sauce on a cool evening. Very pretty. Sunday morning’s omelet sported tiny carrots (thinnings from crowded patches), snap peas, green onions, and the first zucchini, so small and fresh that they were still crisp even after being sautéed and then folded into the omelet. We eat salads by the bushel, and may start sprouting lettuce from our ears or just looking green about the gills any day now, though the raspberries, which we eat in quantities nearly as copious, may balance out the green.

So it seems the song had it right: Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

9 Responses to Living off the garden

  1. My goodness. You’re back. I am delighted. I thought that perhaps you had been kidnapped by fairies or swallowed by a crocodile.

  2. welcome back kate… Cheers, ~bangchik

  3. Welcome back. I glad the garden has thrived!

  4. Yay! Welcome back, Kate! We’ve missed you! And how nice to come back to a booming garden and all those yummy veggies!

  5. So completely THRILLED to see your comment on James’s, especially regarding socks. Ahhh, those were the days. Really hope you are well, Emma xxx

  6. Belated but heartfelt thanks for the greeting, James. Fairies and crocodiles are innocent; blame the garden.
    Thanks bangchik, Susan, OFB; were I to admit to the existence of heartstrings, I’d have to admit also that they are stirred by such warm welcomes.
    Tee hee, Emma. Weren’t they, though? (Remember Mary Hopkins’ “Those were the Days”?) As for James–the gall that man has!
    I’m appalled to realize that the most fun I’ve had as a blogger was two months after I started. (Really started, that is–joined Blotanical and got Serious.) I feel a bit like someone who peaked in high school, and then can’t stop talking about the senior prom. Ugh. Great to hear from you.

  7. Your garden looks great! I was growing mine last spring and had trouble with aphids. I didn’t want to use normal insect killer since I was going green and all. I tried making my own natural bug killing spray but it was a pain in the butt so I found this organic insecticide, end all. Here’s the link if you’re interested:

  8. Thanks, Tom. I note that your recommended product contains Pyrethrins, though at a very low concentration (0.012%); there appears to be a big debate in the organic community about whether pyrethrins are as safe as they’re purported to be.
    I’ve found Neem pretty effective with aphids, and I see that End All contains that also. I guess I’d prefer to start with the less lethal substance before hauling out the big guns.
    Thanks for contributing!

  9. Great post. You really key in on some of the very productive and essential areas of the garden. Proper and thorough irrigation is so critical. Some more of great ideas are at

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